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The Long Shot of Media!

Now that’s a shot! Is the common lingo of every agent and demon that’s walking on the streets all around us with phones of all kinds – some busy with videos and some chatting, some selfing and the rest trying to find the best angle to shoot what’s with them or around them. Billions of terabytes are being shot and recorded every moment all around us. This provides the ringside view of the India today and not just today, this is the India that will be in the years to come – many fold.

How does this indicate the future of content in India? The single largest roadblock in the quantum leap is the hardware that is used for content aggregation. Most of the cameras that are traditionally used are, let’s say bulky, expensive, and complicated to use. This in itself proposes expensive paraphernalia, high-end resources thus making overall packages expensive and a domination of non-creative people.

Globally, best content unusually is dominated by producers and story tellers, screen play writers and then directors, actors, and then anyone else. The overall investment of a project in content research and development is an awesome 18 percent and above. Now compare that to a pittance paid to writers in India that too as a favor, thus having created a breed of accidental writers willing to write any crap without even having the basics correct. No wonder, traditional TV content is losing popularity and revenue both. My estimate is traditional wall-held business has lost nearly 27 percent viewership in the last 14 months; that should be roughly `2500 crore. At this cascading rate, sooner than later, niche content over digital platforms should takeover GEC and news content in next 60 months – as the most preferred wholesome content. I believe this sort of disappearance of viewership and revenue has roots in the infrastructure that niche content is deploying. Android seems to be at the heart of this revolution – fueling the new wave of content creation. However, it is not just Android, but the new wave of mirrorless cameras, radically improved DSLR cameras, and 4K being the new HD, are quietly fueling the new wave of content creation. Easy-to-use interface and advanced autofocus have brought the creative control into hands of simple story tellers. Recent years have seen a whole new breed of outstanding short- and long-form of content shot with simple cameras, thus reinstating focus on the art of story telling. This recent success has more than amply proved that viewers and reviewers are breeds apart.

Brands like Sony, Nikon, and Pentax are on a new high. Even Fuji has renewed and revamped its technical horizon. It is not just cameras but mobile devices also have video at the core of the business now. Other brands are overcoming the issue of video, stills, and audio interface – one device triple-play (utility) is clearly the new business focus.

Leading TV channels have already begun deploying handheld devices for news gathering, reflecting the changing times. For long, IT and technical heads have lost fortunes for projects while making millions – sad but true. Billions could have been saved and strengthened the bottom lines of standalone companies. Of course there can be no smart business unless technology is supportive of content but technology cannot predominate the entire business essence and in the end become a hurdle. Future belongs to simpler devices; devices like GoPro series-I have shot with it and it was great fun shooting adventure modes, encompassing underwater sequences. Three years back, it would have cost a fortune, a team, and days of preparation.

Two years back, I shot a two-minute film in `500 that drove about 120,000 views and we made about `3000. My two ventures, Refugee Camp and Didda-The Warrior Queen of Kashmir sold four and two editions respectively in under four months, without a single rupee being spent.

So what does technology and content teach us? – Let’s get simple seems to be the message I hear; what do you hear?

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